From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Justice Ladiran Akintola of an Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan, the state capital, has adjourned for ruling or judgment on the N500 billion fundamental human rights case instituted by the Yoruba nation activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, against the Federal Government and Department of State Services (DSS).
The court said either the ruling or the judgment would be delivered on the case on September 17, 2021. The case will be for ruling if the preliminary objections raised by the three respondents in the case succeed, but would be for judgment if the objections fail.
The three respondents are Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, as the first respondent, as well as DSS as second respondent and Director of DSS in Oyo state as third respondent. But the court sitting was held yesterday, amid tight security. Journalists were only allowed into the court premises with their identity cards and they were not allowed to take their cars into the court premises.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, the court delivered a ruling on the preliminary objection, raised by the respondents. Justice Ladiran held that both the preliminary objection and the substantive case would be heard together, which made counsel to the parties to open their arguments and addresses and concluded them during the proceedings.
The court also extended the restraining order against the respondents and their privies not to arrest, intimidate, and harass Igboho, and that they should not freeze his bank accounts till September 17, this year.
One of the main highlights of the proceedings was the presentation of video exhibits before the court by Igboho’s lead counsel, Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN), and counsel to the second and third respondents, Mr. T.A. Nurudeen. The presentation, however, attracted fireworks among counsel. The counsel to the first respondent, Abdullahi Abubakar, who argued that the video exhibits on how Igboho’s house was invaded should not be played in the open court, but the judge could watch it in his chambers. This position was opposed by Igboho’s counsel. But the judge cited a legal point on why the video should be played in the open court in the interest of fair hearing.
The two video clips presented by Igboho’s counsel were tagged: Exhibit Oro 9A and Exhibit Oro 9B. The DSS also presented two video clips before the court, marked as DS1 and DS2. They were played via a television set in the court, as well as computers brought by the DSS.
The Exhibit Oro 9A showed video evidence of how Igboho’s house was raided in the early hours of Thursday, July 1, 2021, by the DSS, as well as blood of the people said to have been killed in his house by the security operatives, and vandalism of his house and vehicles. A lady’s voice was heard in the video, saying: “This is Igboho’s house. See what they have done. They have destroyed everything,” as cameras moved on vandalised vehicles and some parts of Igboho’s residence.
The lady also said: “We don’t know who did this,” which means the video had been recorded before the DSS addressed a press conference in Abuja, in the evening of July 1, 2021, that the secret police, in collaboration with other security agencies, raided Igboho’s house in Ibadan, recovered firearms, arrested 12 persons and also killed two persons.
The Exhibit Oro 9B also showed a comment made in February, 2021, by Minister of Defence, Gen Bashir Magashi (retd), who took a cursory look at the security situation in Nigeria and told the people to embark on self-defence against bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements. It also showed Igboho on stage addressing people during different rallies held for actualisation of self-determination for Yoruba nation, without being armed, as well as comment by an elder statesman, Gen Theophilus Danjuma (retd), that people should defend themselves.
In the video evidence presented before the court by counsel to the second and third respondents, Igboho was seen in the DS1, speaking Yoruba language on self-determination for the Yoruba nation, shooting of Yoruba leaders that refused to key into the agitation, and need for Yoruba youth to acquire metaphysical powers to fight for freedom against purported Fulani invasion of Yorubaland.
The second part of Exhibit DS1 showed Igboho, where he said he could not be threatened and that saying if security agents would come to his house, they should not come in the night, but during the day. He added that if 1,000 of them came, only about 100 among them would escape, probably using charms to disappear.
The Exhibit DS2 also showed Igboho’s media aide, Olayori Koiki, where he said Yoruba should prepare for liberation war against the Fulani. It also showed Igboho, where he complained that the Fulani have allegedly been killing, maiming, raping, and destroying farmlands in Yorubaland.
But counsel to Malami argued that there was no material fact before the court that Igboho owns the house in question and the vehicles, adding that there was nothing to show that the blood that was seen in the house was that of human beings or of goats or other animals. He contended further that there was nothing in the video evidence that linked Malami to the raid on Igboho’s house and urged the court to disregard the video exhibits and dismiss the entire suit.
On the preliminary objection, he argued that the court doesn’t have power to hear the case because the case could not be brought under fundamental human rights.
Counsel of the second and third respondents, Nurudeen also argued that he would not take the blood seen in Igboho’s house as that of human beings, until there is a proof from hermatologist, saying the substance did not look like blood of human beings to him.
He argued that the Minister of Defence and Gen. T.Y. Danjuma did not have powers to unilaterally say people should carry guns, adding that the 1999 Constitution is very clear on who and who can bear arms in Nigeria. He also urged the court to dismiss the entire suit.
On the preliminary objection, he urged the court to decide it on merit because the proper parties were not before the court and that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
But Igboho’s counsel, Alliyu, argued that there was nowhere in the affidavit, where respondents queried ownership of Igboho’s house, adding that the Attorney-General of the Federation is the chief legal officer of the country, and he can be sued. He contended further that the two video exhibits presented by second and third respondents could only be enjoyed in cinema, adding that the language spoken in the exhibits was not the language of the court, and that English language is the language of the court. He prayed the court to grant the prayers of the applicant.